This impressive 17.73 carat sapphire was formerly in the collection of Aleksandr Ivanovich Nelidov (1838-1910) and his wife, Olga Dmitrievna Princess Nelidov (née Khilkov, 1839 – 1918). Aleksandar Nelidov was a diplomat and served as Councilor to the Russian embassy in Constantinople, where he played an active role during the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878). Throughout his career, Nelidov was also as the Ambassador to Saxony (1879), Italy (1897-1903) and France (1903-1910). Notably, Nelidov was an active negotiator in the Peace Treaty of San Stefano and the Treaty of Berlin, as well as the Hague Convention of 1907. As a statesman on the global stage during such a tumultuous period in history, Nelidov’s influence was critical to the shaping of the political framework of modern Europe.
Beyond Nelidov’s significant influence, his wife Olga, was a member of one of the oldest Russian noble families. The Khilkovs can trace their family lineage to Rurik, founder of his eponymous dynasty and eventually, Tsarist Russia. For many generations, members of the Khilkov family served the Russian state, including military service in battles during wars against Napoleon and in attendance at Court with Tsars and nobility.